Monday, June 21, 2010

Preparing For a Busy Summer in Shaw

The development pace in Shaw is about to pick up.

Several major projects are due to break ground this summer and fall, including the long-awaited O Street Market Project, Ellis Development Group's slightly downsized Renaissance Project (formerly Broadcast Center One), and the refurbishment of the Howard Theater.

Over on O Street, it looks like the earth may finally start moving there this September, when developer Roadside Development undertakes efforts to stabilize the structure. The Giant store located across the street from the market will be closed in January 2011, and the building will be razed a month later. And with that, one of the neighborhood's most intriguing--and hoped-for--projects will be off and running.

To recap, when completed the O Street Market will include over 600 residential units (including 86 subsidized by the city), a boutique hotel, senior housing, a 500+ space parking garage, and nearly 90,000 sf of retail, including 57,000 sf for the new Giant store. The development will also reopen 8th Street in that portion of Shaw. The new Giant is tentatively due to open in early 2013, with the hotel and rest of the development coming on board a year later. (Be forewarned: dates for projects of such magnitude are nearly always "fluid".) The development stands to be a transformative project in a long-neglected part of the city, and will also provide a much-needed boost to 9th Street, where the development of its commercial corridor continues.

Speaking of 9th Street, a much smaller project is set to land at 1501 9th Street, next door to the Queen of Sheba restaurant. The 6,000 sf, four-story building, will be built on a vacant lot that used to host a used car dealership. Moving into the new structure will be Burmese food purveyors Mandalay, currently located in Silver Spring. Current plans call for the restaurant to occupy the bottom two floors of the building (with the second floor being largely a bar/lounge space), and the restaurant owner's family inhabiting the upper floors.

An entire floor devoted to a bar/lounge? Gah! Cue Shiloh Church protest in 3, 2, 1...

Over at 7th and S Streets, Ellis Development Group appears set to break ground on its Renaissance Project in August. If that name is unfamiliar to you, that may be because for years it was known as Broadcast Center One, which was going to be the new home of Radio One, until Radio One decided they liked their Maryland digs a bit better. At the time, Radio One's decision to back out put the project in serious jeopardy. However, the city stepped in with a $3.6 million real estate tax abatement for the United Negro College Fund, who agreed to move in and fill much of the commercial space in the building, which will also feature 180 residential units and street level retail (albeit 25,000 fewer sf than had originally been proposed).

The rebirth of the Renaissance Project is excellent news in more ways than one: in addition to providing further development near the Shaw Metro Station, it will also bring an influx of daytime office workers to an area currently lacking them. The project will take up space within a block of the new Waltha T. Daniel library, set to open this summer.

A bit further north on 7th Street, Ellis is also set to break ground in August on the refurbishment of the long-closed Howard Theater. This project has been on the books for awhile, and in fact appeared close to dead earlier this year when Ward 1 council member Jim Graham made comments to the effect of "the project isn't close to happening".

Well, it appears now that it is. When completed, the refurbished theater will play host to performances that can accommodate between 500-600 spectators, "upscale" (Ellis's words, not mine) food and beverage services, and space for community meetings and events.

If you're wondering how this will mesh with the Lincoln Theater, which seems curiously quiet for much of the year, you aren't the only one. The release touting the groundbreaking took pains to note that the Howard would not compete with the Lincoln, and that it would aim to host primarily larger-draw musical acts and similar performances. Maybe, just maybe, the Howard's board of directors will be a bit more ambitious when it comes to filling the Theater's calendar of events than the Lincoln has been. But that's just a thought.

Regardless, having the Howard project back online is certainly good news for residents of northern Shaw and Ledroit Park, who have been waiting for some time for new development to reach their corner of the city.

Coupled with the announced transformation of the Kelsey Gardens projects into the Addison Square development, it's quite possible that the Shaw you see five years from now will be markedly different from what is there today.


Shawn said...

Thanks - this is a really exciting and comprehensive update!

KstreetQB said...

Best summary I have seen anywhere.

I would love to be in a meeting where Shiloh takes issue with Mandalay's liquor liscence. They sat on two abandoned buildings across the street from me for 40 years while trash built up in the yards, kids played in dangerous conditions and I didn't see any shovels on their sidewalks during the snowpocalypse. They don't care about the community; they're a shameful blight on it.

Anonymous said...

Oh joy. Just what we need. More drunks fighting at 2 in the morning.